The Zionist Federation of Australia has partnered with Telfed - The South African Zionist Federation (Israel) to provide absorption assistance to Australian immigrants on a trial basis.
The two organizations agreed last month that Telfed would immediately begin to support Australian immigrants during their first year in Israel by extending to them services already available to South Africans. These services include welcoming them at the airport, checking on them regularly and connecting them with employment counselors and social workers.
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“We have the facilities and the wherewithal to provide these services, and we look forward to helping Australian [immigrants] have a soft landing in the country,” said Telfed chairman Dave Bloom. He added that there is a “natural synergy” between Telfed and the ZFA because about 30 percent of the Jews who have moved to Israel from Australia in recent years were born in South Africa.
After a year-long trial period, the organizations will discuss whether Telfed should support Australian immigrants beyond their first year in Israel. “We certainly do not rule out extending the support,” Bloom said.
For more than a decade, Australian immigrants received assistance from United Jewish Israel Appeal (UJIA), formerly known as the British Olim Society. But a decision to scale back its absorption operations forced the ZFA to find a new partner, according to ZFA president Philip Chester.
“Over the last two years the UJIA has moved its focus into other areas and has a much smaller operation that it dedicates to [immigrants],” Chester said by phone from South Victoria, Australia. “We felt that it would be useful to us to look for a partner that has a larger infrastructure.” The ZFA currently sends about 200 Australian immigrants to Israel each year and is working to increase that number, he said.
Natie Sheval, Israel regional director of the UJIA, said the new policy was introduced with the UJIA's blessing. "There is no problem whatsoever,” he said.
Next month, Chester and ZFA executive director Ginette Searle will officially introduce the partnership in a ceremony at Telfed’s main Ra’anana office. Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver is also expected to attend.